Monday, July 6, 2009

AC is Evolving

Earlier this year, we introduced the term Source into the Associated Content vocabulary as a new way to describe the individuals who publish content on AC. Since then, feedback we've collected from our visitors and community has indicated that our use of the term is confusing. So, we gathered suggestions for alternative names and now we're going to make another change.

From now on, AC will proudly refer to our publishers as Contributors. It’s a simple change, but one that we hope will give each individual a better sense of ownership over the content they create, and give our visitors a clear sense of what AC is all about. In the weeks ahead, you can expect to see us phasing out Source while we bring Contributor to the fore.

But that’s not the only way in which AC is evolving.

In May, we made some significant changes to our home page. Now we’re going to start experimenting with alternative home page layouts to determine how best to encourage visitors to explore the AC library. You should know that this is a process we take seriously. All of our decisions are guided by the data we collect from visitor interactions with the site, and we’ll continue to tweak things as we analyze the results of each change.

Click on the thumbnails below to see previews of just two of many possible arrangements.

This is only the beginning. In the weeks and months ahead, you’ll be seeing even more changes, some minor and some major, in other areas of the site. Why are we doing this? To improve the visitor experience. The library that you’ve created is wealth of useful information. We want to present it in the best possible way, while encouraging visitors to dive deeper and come back for more – increasing page views and putting extra money in your pocket!

Thanks to AC’s many talented Contributors! Stay tuned for exciting new experiments!


Donald Pennington said...

These are some great changes. "Source" implied too many things. "Contributor" allows a lot more flexibility.

The new home pages look great too.


Lyn Lomasi said...

The changes sound exciting. While I did grow used to the term "Source," I also feel it may be confusing to those unfamiliar with AC. I think "Contributor" is a much better description.

I'm glad to see that the front page will be undergoing changes. The layouts in the thumbnail photos look more appealing than the existing one.

Not sure if the tech team is looking for feedback, but if so, here's what I think. This may already have been mentioned before by me or someone else, but it seems the news should be put back on the front page somehow.

Maybe there could be a section where the news category rotates, another section where the other category features rotate, and a section like the one shown in the thumbnail photos on the left (with the topics people are writing about). Also, I think the community aspect of AC should be reflected on the front page somehow. One suggestion could be to have a small box along the bottom with avatars of new Contributors and/or featured and successful Contributors.

Sorry for the long post (lol). Hope it helps give the tech team some ideas if they're looking for more.

Sabah said...

Great to see these changes at AC, definitely a step in the right direction! I think Contributor is a much better fit for the type of work we do.

Looking forward to more mockups of the home page too...a featured article from the most popular categories (maybe 4 or 6?) at any given time could be a great addition to the front page. That way, it would always be fresh.

Darnell Witt said...

Glad to hear you guys are liking the changes. Thanks, Lyn & Sabah, for the input - I will surely pass it along.

Lyn Lomasi said...

You're welcome, Darnell. Thanks for passing it along.

Plus, I just realized I didn't even say thanks to AC for the changes, so thanks to all at AC involved in the new changes. :-)

Sadie Kay said...

Looks like positive changes are coming. Great! I like "Contributor" much better than "Source".

Kenzy England said...

I really like these changes (proposed changes) to the front page. I guess I'm missing the look of the new contributor pages as I don't see a thumbnail for that.

I am also fine with the title "Contributor" and think it sounds better than "Source".

As with the others, I'm happy to see that AC is listening to us.

Lynn Pritchett said...

Change is Growth and Growth is Good ;-)

Sean Easley said...

I agree that the idea of change is exciting. Contributor is a very clear, very concise representation of the right kind of idea to put in the minds of those who come to AC.

Also, I hope that we get the option to organize content on out Contributor Pages. Many friends have come to my page and been overwhelmed by the vast disparities in the content I write, and I would love to be able to simplify that for them without having to resort to my Wordpress blog as the catch-all organizer.

R. Elizabeth C. Kitchen said...

"Contributor" is a great term and clearly defines what we do.

As for the home page layout. I agree with everything Lyn and Sabah said. I think that the homepage should go back to a similar version of what it was months ago. It had more life and sort of "pushed" visitors into wanting to dive deeper into the site and read more. The new layout and the ones here on the blog have no real personality and in my opinion are uninviting. Put up a featured article from each major category and change it weekly. This will be easy to do because the category editors already choose a new featured article for each major category weekly. The news also needs to be updated on a daily basis, if not more often. News happens every single minute of every single day and it should rotate in that fashion.

While I think wanting to recruit new contributors is great, I think AC should focus on the ones they already have more. Put a small banner inviting others to join, but the focus of the front page shouldn't be to get more contributors it should be to feature and showcase its current contributors.

Frugalicious Definition said...

I'm very pleased with both changes. The term source simply made it seem as if we were the person cited in the article. So, I'm glad to see that term is making it's way out. And, both homepage layouts were attractive and user friendly. This seems like a giant step in a positive direction.

Marie Anne said...

Contributor - I love it! It might even get me back to writing again.

Thanks, AC!

John D Carmack said...

Yes, I like "contributor" MUCH better than "source". I just could never bring myself to call people that on my blog, for example.

Anonymous said...

I DEFINITELY agree with R. Elizabeth C. Kitchen - I wish AC was focusing more on the "contributors" it already has. Particularly with how few paying "assignments" (I still think of them as "calls") there have been lately.

Lisa Carey said...

I too prefer the term contributors over Source. .. it does more accurately reflect what we do.

Looking forward to exploring more changes and fine tuning of the home page. I think that some great progress is being made to make the site more useful and to get people involved.

But it's not quite there yet-- there have been some good suggestions here in the comments as well as on the board that I hope are incorporated.
Thanks for keeping us informed!

Carolyn Cordon said...

For me had connotations of drug dealing!!
I am happy to be a contributor, always.

A agree about the lack of 'assignments'. I enjoy writing to a theme, but there hasn't been anything that appealed to me for quite some time now.

Unknown said...

Agree with Donald. "Source"...ehhh. Sounded very creepy to me.

Contributor is more reasonable.

Anonymous said...

Contributor! Now, that sounds MUCH better. Thank you, AC!

p.s. -- I like the second layout. :)

M.G. Hardiman said...

Great changes, AC. For example, I like "contributor," sounds better. Also, I like having "share" at the top/bottom of each article. More convenient. Looks like folks have been working hard on this stuff. Thanks for all!!

Fabletoo said...

Thanks for listening to us about 'Source'. I don't think anyone liked it as it was very confusing.

Contributors makes much more sense. A great change! Thank you :-)